View from India: Gender diversity is key to product management success

The product management segment is poised to gain traction as an influential field and a path to C-Suite (or executive-level leadership). The inclusion of women is essential for the overall growth of the Indian product ecosystem.

Apex NASSCOM recently launched the NASSCOM Women Product Champions (NWPC) to nurture and promote women in product management and help them thrive in product careers at all levels. This means women can easily navigate, grow, and succeed in product management roles from entry into the field, through mid-career, and into executive and leadership roles. Overall, the intention is to create diverse workspaces. “There is a felt need in the industry to cultivate diverse talent. Digital talent is the future of the world. A pool of skilled digital talent is growing, but there is a gap between supply and demand. Women make up about 36% of the tech industry, and they may not fill every role; the representation of women in all executives may be lacking,” said Shalini Sankarshana, Executive Vice President of Broadridge Financials, at the launch of the NWPC.

When we look at women as product managers, for example, there are perhaps not too many of them. There are several reasons for this, including a lack of awareness or skills required to perform the role and the fact that there are few role models. Product managers need communication skills and must have empathy for customers and understand customer pain points; decision-making and stakeholder management are part of the job description. Depending on the situation, the product manager could step into the shoes of the product marketing manager. “The product manager provides the scale to run a product, and run it like a business while continuing to delight customers. Usually, the B2B or B2C space gives product managers the opportunity to showcase products and formatting their experience. Apps could be rolled out for the product,” observed Malthi S, director of product management at Paypal.

The corporate philosophy of diversity and inclusion should include gender in both vertical and horizontal roles. Building a digital gender talent pool is important. A gender-neutral approach based on knowledge-centric skills helps create an inclusive customer-centric experience. The company may have cutting-edge technology, but they need to make the right product for the right market and deliver a great user experience. The product design process must reduce the digital divide by including women from the conceptualization phase.

This is not only a way to achieve gender diversity, but also to ensure that innovations and ideas coming from women are not missed. Women bring a new perspective to things and who knows, this might appeal to product users who are not just men but also women. “To think about it, both male and female employees have to juggle roles and struggle with stress levels. But along with this, women need to take care of their health. Work-life balance for mothers remains a challenge as most mothers indulge in the “mom guilt” factor. Covid has opened up remote work options, which can become opportunities for women. Part-time jobs, consulting jobs, or individual projects in the project management portfolio can be options worth checking out,” said Upasana Taku, founder of MobiKwik.

Women can become independent product developers. As freelance product developers, they can build mobile apps, create solutions for customers, and integrate gaps through regular customer feedback. They can share their product expertise via podcasts, and social media platforms can also serve as marketing channels to connect with the market or even raise funds.

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